How To Upgrade the Radiator on Jeep JK? (Explained)

Why isn’t your Jeep JK staying cool? Why is the engine overheating? How do you fix the problems that come in an association with these? And what are the better options to solving the problem?

Simple! It’s the radiator. And overheating problem most commonly manifests from the bad radiator. Mostly the jeeps come with factory radiators, which don’t meet up the standards after a while.

In this article, I will discuss the upgrading of the radiator on Jeep JK. And the steps to take to do that. I will also discuss some better radiators than the factory-grade radiator that comes with the Jeep. So read on until the very end!

Can You Upgrade the Radiator On Jeep JK?

The answer is YES! Yes, you can. In fact, it is rather advisable to replace your radiator and get an upgrade. Doing this is pretty easy too!

Upgrading the radiator means replacing the radiator with a new one. Usually, you cannot change parts by part. However, you can try. Changing the hoses, fitting pins, etc can be done if you look for it in the salvage yard online.

When Should You Upgrade Radiator?

A jeep’s driving conditions has a lot to do with replacing radiators. But Jeep JK radiators are replaced usually at 80,000 miles.

But buying a new radiator and replacing it with the old one is the proper way to go about upgrading your radiator. Because salvaged parts may not last as long. The money you save by that will not be worth it and you may end up spending even more that way.

Moreover, if you see the following symptoms, replace the radiator:

  • Overheating of the engine. (Make sure the engine is not overheating due to a plethora of other reasons.) Usually, radiators perform the work of cooling the engine. So overheating is the most prominent sign of a broken radiator.
  • Loss of coolant but no noticeable leaks. This usually points to radiator damage.
  • Milky oil due to coolant mixing with engine oil.
  • Bubbles or extra pressure in the cooling system.
  • Shifting problems. You may notice the engine jerking or stuttering too.
  • Exhaust smoke is white.

How Much Does It Cost To Upgrade Radiator On Jeep JK?

It depends on the model of the new radiator and the replacement process.

The price can range from as low as $98-120 and as much as $300-$400 or more. This is just the cost of the new radiator. Some radiators cost even more than $400.

If you use mechanical help, their service charges will be added.

My Top Recommendation On Jeep JK Radiator Upgrade

It is important to pick the best-fit radiator. But for your jeep JK, the quality should be managed as well! Here are a few suggestions we have for you:

1. Mishimoto Aluminum Radiator

Mishimoto radiators are good quality radiators. Although they receive mixed reviews sometimes. These go perfectly with your wrangler. They cool properly and deliver performance. performance it gives.

2. Griffin Performance Aluminum Radiators

These are high quality, high performance and high-value radiators.However, they may be a little expensive for some. They also build custom radiators. Griffin has a name for having a very good fit. Works amazing with heating issues.

3. CSF Radiators

These are pretty basic radiators but they do their job. Budget-friendly so plus points for that! From a price point they are a 4 out of 5. They also have a very good solid build.

Click on the radiators to find out more on their websites.

How To Upgrade Radiator On Jeep?

If you have the right tools and follow a few simple steps, you will have an upgraded radiator in no time. So here it goes:

Tools needed to Upgrade/Replace the Radiator on Jeep JK:

  • ¼” ratchet
  • 7mm, 8mm and 10mm sockets.
  • Small extensions.
  • 10mm ratchet wrench.
  • Trim removal tool.
  • A pair of pliers.
  • A container to catch the coolant.

PRECAUTION!:

Before you start changing the radiator, disconnect the negative battery cable on your jeep. This is not just safe for you. But it will also protect the range of electricals that your JK houses.

Loosen the battery connection with a 10mm socket. Loosening it enough will smoothly disconnect the negative battery terminal.

Removing the Old Radiator on Your Jeep JK:

Now that we have made sure of safety, we will dive into the process of how to upgrade the radiator on Jeep JK.

Step-1: The first step is to drain all the coolant from the radiator. Make sure you have a draining pan placed close by.

Now find a knob on top of your radiator. Usually, it rests underneath the grill. Twist this knob with a pair of pliers. Place the draining pan beneath it.

Twist the knob counterclockwise and carefully to remove the plastic thing. Once it is loose, it will drain out the coolant.

Step-2: After removing the coolant entirely, take out the factory air box. This can be done by removing the clips that hold the box on the sides. Just take the clips off with your fingers with a slight push horizontally away from the box.

On the back, take off the PCV hoses that are connected to the box. Now hold the box with both of your hands and gently take it in the top direction, towards you. Place this top part on the side.

Now pull off similarly the bottom section of the air box off. It is attached to rubber grommets below so you might face a little resistance. Nothing to worry about!

Step-3: On top of the radiator shroud, there are four push pins. Take those push pins off. Use a trim removal tool for this. Pull the shroud towards the jeep. Now you can remove the coolant overflow hose on top of the radiator. Put the hose inside the overflow tank in case anything comes out.

Now, disconnect the fan shroud plug. Simply pull it straight out!

Step-4: Disconnect the upper radiator hose by depressing on the clamp with a pair of pliers. Slowly twist it back.

Steer clear of the residual fluid that still may be inside the hose. Do not touch it! Tuck the hose behind any one of the AC vents.

Step-5: Now take out the coolant overflow tank by slightly pulling it upward.

Step-6: Here’s the tricky part! Time to get your mechanic mojo on! Get underneath the lower radiator shroud. You will find three pushpins there. Using the trim removal tool take them out. 

Step-7: Using 8mm sockets, take out the 8mm bolts that hold the fan shroud. Save the bolts for later. Pull out the fan shroud.

Step-8: Now disconnect the grill. Remove the 6 clips at the top of the grill. Disconnect the turn signals and pull out the grill.

Step-9: Pull out the four 8mm bolts that are holding the AC condenser in the front. Use an 8mm ratchet wrench.

Step-10: Remove the lower radiator hose like you removed the upper radiator hose. Make sure you have a draining pan below.

Take out two clips each on both sides with a clip remover tool. Two more pop pins on the lower side need to be taken out similarly.

Two 10mm bolts hold the lower one with the upper shroud. Take those out.

On the driver’s side of the radiator, there is a bracket that holds on the AC condenser lines. In between, there’s an 8mm bolt. Take that out with the socket. This will take off the bracket. The process is difficult as it is hard to see the bracket.

Step-11: Now it’s time! Take out your radiator entirely with everything disconnected!

Putting the New Radiator on Your Jeep JK:

Start from one side, such as the passenger’s side. Your new radiator is loosely mounted on the hardware. Now start with the 10mm screws, followed by other bolts. Tighten the AC condenser first!

You might as well upgrade the new hoses. For example, the Mishimito Silicone hoses. Put all the hoses back together properly and secure them. Make sure all the push pins are tightly secured.

Put the airbox back in the grommets, put the top piece and clips back on. Reconnect the battery connection.

Conclusion

Jeep JK usually does not produce overheating issues. But on the instances that they do, you can just switch up the radiator. The process doesn’t require mechanics. At least you won’t need one if you have read this article through! So, the process of upgrading the radiator on your Jeep JK is solved!

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